Healthy Recipes for Your Summer Picnic

If you’re trying to stay healthy this summer (maybe you’ve even committed to doing a detox, or are trying to do a low-carb eating plan like Keto or Paleo, or just cut back on gluten and refined sugar), then making your own compliant dishes is the easiest way to enjoy eating with friends while having food you can eat!

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to have fun in the kitchen, and impress your friends!

So I’ve put together some of my favorite “summer picnic” recipes, which are mostly detox-friendly, or adaptable, and free of processed sugar, gluten, grains and dairy. At the same time, they are crowd pleasers!

  • Chicken Zucchini Burgers

  • Kale & Avocado Pancakes

  • Simple Holiday Salad (great for ALL holidays and large meals!)

  • Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

  • Sweet Potato Tater-Tots

  • Two-minute Guacamole

  • Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

  • Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Brownies

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Did You Know...? Benefits of Hemp Seeds (+ Recipes!)

Did you know that Hemp Seeds are one of nature's most perfect and nutritious foods? 

These tiny seeds have a concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes, combined with almost no sugar, sodium, starches nor saturated fats. They’re super easy to digest and contain about 13 grams of protein in just 3 tablespoons. Plus, like most other seeds, they can be used almost anywhere – from sprinkling on your smoothies/salads/soups to a key ingredient in many yummy plant-based recipes. And personally, I LOVE them!

READ MORE to learn nutritional benefits of hemp seeds, and 4 delicious recipes of mine using hemp seeds.

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A “Quinoa-like Superfood” You Should Add to Your Diet (and 4 recipes!)

Most everyone knows about the delicious superfood quinoa and its awesome health benefits. BUT if you’re getting bored of only using quinoa and occasionally rice, maybe it’s time you start exploring other delicious, nutritious, and naturally gluten-free grains. (And in fact, quinoa and all of these that I’m about to list, are technically NOT grains, but SEEDS that are high in protein and fiber. I call them “grain-like seeds”. Which is in part why they're easier on the gut!) Examples include:

  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Teff

Today I want to focus on BUCKWHEAT as its one of my favorites. I started eating it for its hormone-balancing properties, and now I eat it because I love it!

Here is why you should be adding buckwheat to your diet (and 4 delicious recipes!):

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A Quick, Delicious, Gut-Friendly Meal: Easy Vegetable Chickpea Curry

Do you come home tired from work without energy to cook (nor digest) a big meal? Do you crave a light, simple meal, yet comforting and soothing?

Maybe you’re still a bit stressed form work and your belly feels a bit bloated, so you know that you need something easy to digest.

This happens to me constantly. And while a sandwich or bowl of cereal is what I would do in the past, I now know that all that gluten and sugar at night is the WORST thing for my belly. So about a year ago, on one of these tired work days, I came home to go though my pantry and fridge to see what easy and belly-friendly meal I could make, and that’s when I first came up with my Easy Vegetable Chickpea Curry. And now, its become one of my go-to meals for these days.

On top of being simple and delicious, it’s awesome for your digestion. This dish is filled with all the different types of fiber to help you poop beautifully (yep I said it!) and the curry spices help you digest the food – which is especially important at dinner time.

And most importantly, this dish can be done in just half an hour (or even less). 

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Three Easy & Delicious Seasonal Dishes to Enjoy this Summer!

Eating seasonal foods is one of the best things you can do for your health. Seasonal produce is picked when it’s ripe (so plants get extra sun-time), and it generally has more antioxidants, more color and more flavor!

Where I am now, it's mid-summer, and I’m blessed to have a ton of fresh, locally-grown summer vegetables to enjoy. I encourage you to visit your local farmers market and stock up on seasonal produce; not only are you doing your body a favor, you’re supporting local farmers as well (and not paying the cost of transportation that you pay for out-of-season, non-local produce)!

Some of my favorite summer veggies include: arugula, avocados, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, corn and green beans. Cucumber is another refreshing, healthy summer veggie. While I admit it isn't my favorite, I have found a recipe that I LOVE with cucumbers (and I bet you will, too!), which I will share with you today!  

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The Perfect Weekday Lunch – Macro Bowl

Macro Bowls are my favorite go-to lunch recipes. They're simple, easily customizeable, healthy yet filling enough to keep you energized throughout your afternoon.

Macro bowls are the definition of BALANCED meals; they’re called macro bowls because they include all major macro-nutrients: carbs, protein and fat. They usually consist of a base of whole grains, raw and/or cooked veggies, a protein of your choice and a healthy fat. The best thing is that you can really be creative with them and design to your liking. 

There are so many varieties, but I’ll run you through the basic steps so that you can start making your favorite version. 

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PRE-WORKOUT NUTRITION & RECIPES

Giving your body adequate fuel & nutrition before and after every workout is key for staying energized, building lean muscle, burning calories and losing weight, and for promoting a healthy recovery of your tissues.

Pre-workout, you want to focus on getting healthy complex carbs (such as veggies, fruits and whole grains) and healthy fats (such as nuts, seeds and avocado). When we eat carbs, our bodies store them in the muscles as glycogen, and as we exercise, we begin to deplete this glycogen – particularly in the first hour. Our bodies also metabolize fats and protein for energy, particularly in longer workouts, so including a little bit of vegetarian fat and/or protein is recommended. However, it’s important to make your pre-workout meal very light so it doesn’t weigh you down, and eat it at least 30-45 mins before starting your exercise.

WHAT IF YOU'RE WORKING OUT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING - SHOULD YOU STILL EAT? Unless it's just a light exercise like walking or gentle yoga, then yes, ideally you should eat something small. Working out while hungry can place stress on your body, activating your sympathetic nervous system, and can even make you lose muscle mass as your body will draw protein from your muscles for fuel. Just a small portion of 1 of my suggested pre-workout meals can do the trick.

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Having Friends Over? My Easy, Healthy “Go-To” Dish for Entertaining

I don’t know about you, but I love entertaining and wish I could do it more often. Why don't I? Because it’s time consuming and so much work! I host dinner parties sometimes with the help of someone (say for ex., my wonderful boyfriend who cooks up an awesome churrasco) which makes it so much fun, but it’s once in a blue moon. 

But having friends over should be easy and fun. Plus, if I'm hosting, I know that I can keep it on the healthy side - a huge plus. So what becomes my solution? I invite people over for some wine and a few appetizers. And while it’s much easier to just buy some pre-made hummus and pita chips, it's more special (and healthy!) to make a dish or two of my own.  

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Craving Pasta? Try These Healthy, Guilt-Free Alternatives

Everyone loves pasta, but sadly, it's not so good for our bodies.  While a small portion of pasta is OK to have on occasion, it's one of those foods that unfortunately should be eliminated from your regular diet if you're aiming for sustained weight loss.

Why?  Because pasta is made from wheat flour that scores very high in the glycemic-index, meaning it causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, which ultimately leads to weigh gain.  Also, wheat flour contains gluten, and it’s now well known that many people do better with no or limited amounts of gluten in their diet, myself being one of them.  Gluten causes inflammation in the gut, which can lead to a whole host of more serious issues.  

Therefore, I’ve discovered other pasta-like options that are not only gluten-free, but also higher in nutrition.  

Here are some amazing and healthy alternatives to your regular wheat flour pasta, all of which are gluten-free:

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Low-Carb Swaps for Lasting Weight Loss

In my experience, the best way to lose weight and get the body you want is by making small step-by-step improvements in your diet.  Super strict diets that require a complete overhaul of your diet are overwhelming and of course, hard to maintain. 

While some effort is required, making healthier choices is easier than you may realize. 

We all hate to give up our favorite not-so-healthy foods, and while there are some that are best avoiding all together, there are others that can easily be modified to make them lighter and healthier.  With some easy swaps that I’m about to share with you over the next few weeks, you'll see that we can keep these foods (with a few adjustments) in our regular diet while staying healthy and not gaining weight. 

Today I want to share my favorite swaps for SANDWICHES & WRAPS, as well as RICE, and I'll share 2 fabulous recipes that you can try this week!

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Traveling? An Easy Recipe For Your Next Long Haul Flight + 4 Key Supplements

The month of August has been non-stop traveling for me, from California, to Spain, to Nicaragua.  As fun as it has been, all the traveling poses a big challenge to my healthy lifestyle.  My body is very sensitive to changes in setting, time zone, air pressure, and of course, changes in routine.  My body KNOWS when its not at home. 

Luckily I've learned a few tricks over the past year (as traveling overseas has become a monthly occurrence) that really work well for me.  I’ve made it my mission to find ways to have my body adjust as much as possible, and avoid the bloating and fatigue that often comes with these long flights. 

It all starts with the flight itself, which is always one of the most challenging things for me.  For starters, I’m someone who has a big appetite, and cannot go more than a few hours without eating.  And, similar to many of you I'm sure, I have a hard time sleeping more than two consecutive hours on a flight.  So if it’s an overnight flight, I’m tired, restless, and my body naturally craves food.  Therefore, I would usually end up eating eat plane food (even though the food isn’t great, and of course, it’s highly processed!) just because I was bored and couldn’t sleep.  And since the meals are quite small, I would eat almost everything, including the sugar-loaded dessert.

So what have I done to improve my long flights and disruptive travels? 

First and most importantly, I’ve come up with a go-to recipe for healthy food that I can take with me on the flight, through security with no problem, and that tastes delicious even at room temperature.  It’s my Sweet Vegetable Bake.  I make a large batch, and take that with me, together with some raw nuts and fruit, and I’m set for the entire plane ride.  This way I fill up on healthy homemade food, and can avoid the airplane food filled with chemicals and preservatives, and most importantly, I am able to resist the unnecessary desserts.

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A Tasty, Detox-Friendly Way to Spice Up Any Meal

Today is the last day of my 10 Day Summer Detox, during which I have taken the time to experiment with a lot of gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. I've had so much fun, and come up with so many new recipes that I can't wait to share with you!

One simple recipe that I found myself using a lot during the detox was my Pumpkin & Hemp Seed Pesto.

I literally add it to almost anything, but my favorite is to use it as a spread/sauce over grilled fish.  I also like to mix it in with some plain cooked quinoa, to make a delicious twist on my regular quinoa side-dish. You can throw it on top of some brown rice pasta as well, with an extra drizzle of olive oil and maybe some cherry tomatoes, for an amazing gluten-free pasta dish. This sauce is so versatile, yummy and most importantly, detox-friendly!

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Easy Weeknight Quinoa & Tempeh Salad

One of the key things I try to teach my clients is that healthy cooking doesn't have to be complicated.  It doesn't have to be a chore.  And you don't need to be a chef.  But like everything, it gets easier with practice.

So I'm going to start sharing with you some healthy and easy recipes. Here is an easy weeknight salad dish that I love:

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